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Blew a vein during clinical

Students   (2,007 Views 21 Comments)
by KitKat2019 KitKat2019 (Member)

487 Visitors; 12 Posts

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Hello all,

I just wanted to rant about my OB clinical day and how stressful it was. A charge nurse came to me and told me to get my professor to draw labs on a triage patient today. Ok cool! Practice for me. I talked through it with my professor since it has been 8 months since I've started an IV or drew labs. I haven't had much time or opportunity to practice on a weekly basis in nursing school so I felt a little on the rusty side today. As soon as we walked into the patient's room I could immediately feel that I wasn't wanted because I'm a student and they were probably expecting someone with experience to draw her blood. Totally understandable. I would feel the same way. I couldn't see any of her veins with a tourniquet on and could barely feel the two veins that were parallel to one another. My instructor said "oooh, this is a good one here" and I had to go by what I was feeling since I none of her veins were popping. The problem was her vein curved to the left and I had to go in straight, then angle the needle to the other side. This was only my 2nd time drawing blood since last semester in nursing school (We had 4 months off in the summer) and I feel like a total failure! I punctured the other side of her vein even when I tried to go at a certain angle and my professor called me out in front of the patient saying, "you blew the vein. Ma'am would you like for me to stick you this time?" She said, "Yes, please." I was so embarrassed and still feel like a horrible human being because I absolutely did not intend to do that. I really feel terrible because I feel like the patient and her family hates me and my professor thinks I'm stupid. I know I need to practice more but I'm literally terrified to stick someone else again. To make matters worse, I had to use an 18 gauge needle to draw all of the labs, so I'm sure it didn't feel to good!! I'm afraid to keep practicing because I don't want to hurt someone, but I know it's the only way to get really good at something. Has anyone had something similar happen to them and can relate? I feel like I don't have support in my nursing program either.

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meanmaryjean has 40 years experience and works as a Nursing Faculty.

49 Likes; 3 Followers; 63,688 Visitors; 7,496 Posts

"You blew the vein" is not calling you out. It is a statement of fact. And certainly not rant-worthy.

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NICU Guy has 4 years experience as a BSN, RN and works as a NICU RN.

222 Likes; 1 Follower; 30,792 Visitors; 3,237 Posts

Nurses with many years of experience blow veins on a routine basis, especially the elderly. There isn't a nurse that is working that never blown a vein unless they have never attempted a venous stick.

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UniqueUserName has <1 years experience.

179 Visitors; 25 Posts

I wouldn't worry about it. I had an experienced nurse try to draw blood from me after I had my daughter and she blew my vein and bruised up both my hands trying to get a good stick! You just need more practice, which will happen after school when you get a job.

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567 Likes; 3 Followers; 25,919 Visitors; 5,224 Posts

No matter how much practice you get, and no matter how good you get at drawing blood or starting IVs, you will nevertheless "blow a vein"occasionally. Don't make a catastrophe out of an insignificant incident. Your CI doesn't expect you to be an expert, or even particularly competent, as a student. Physical tasks like phlebotomy do not have anything to do with intelligence. Don't try to avoid this in the future as a way to prevent making mistakes. Instead, search out every opportunity to practice that you can get.

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43 Likes; 3,463 Visitors; 232 Posts

I'm sure this won't be the last time you blow a vein. You sound like you were already nervous and your instructor embarrassed you. Just apologize to the patient or next time, don't even stick a patient if you're unsure or not comfortable.

Not all veins will pop, and not all that do are any good. Sometimes an alcohol swabing will help. You're gonna need to learn to feel what you can't see. It takes practice, which you likely won't get until you're on the floor with your RN. If you have family will to volunteer an arm for ten minutes or so use them. Use even your own arm. Find and feel your hearts content. It may not help with sticking, that's a different art, but vein finding is half the battle.

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jj224 has 4 years experience and works as a SRNA.

2 Likes; 6,967 Visitors; 363 Posts

I try to avoid the terminology "blew the vein" or "the vein blew" in front of a patient. It makes it sound a lot worse than it is, and it certainly doesn't make the patient feel better about having a student drawing labs. I think it was poor form of your instructor to say that. They could have said something like "the blood isn't flowing well over here," or something else similar.

That said, don't sweat it. I've started many, many IVs and I still miss every once in a while.

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3,520 Visitors; 560 Posts

This is going to happen. A lot! Dont sweat it.

My gosh when I was still in the army and we were learning to give IVs we practiced on each other. By the end of the week, we looked like a support group for hemophiliac intravenous drug users.

Frankly the fact that nursing schools have mostly discontinued the practice of allowing nursing students to practice on each other is sad and detracts from gaining needed competence.

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546 Visitors; 20 Posts

So sorry that you had a crappy clinical. Hopefully your instructor will understand and remember that you're human and still learning how to get the hang of it. Not sure why some people need to make you feel worse by stating that it isn't rant worthy. You can rant. If people don't like it they have the option of scrolling past your post instead of the unnecessary mean girl comments but I guess that some of us try to live up to our names.:no: :D Anyway, feel free to msg me if you ever need to "rant"...I've been there and completely understand. Hoping that your next clinical is a great one. :happy:

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1,114 Likes; 7 Followers; 21,258 Visitors; 2,688 Posts

I agree that verbiage in front of the patient is unnecessary and pretty much inappropriate. When I'm working with someone I just gently say, "it looks like that one isn't going to work this time..." Everything else can be discussed later away from the patient.

OP I'm sure no one hated you or thought you were stupid. Everything's okay.

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ShadowNurse has 3 years experience.

85 Likes; 363 Visitors; 78 Posts

I'll echo what the others have said. IV insertion and phlebotomy isn't an exact science. Even the "best" stick on the floor will not be able to draw blood some days or will blow a vein. Sometimes I can get it easily first try, sometimes no matter what I do there just isn't anything there. You try, and ask colleagues to help, maybe draw from a central line if that's feasible, and very occasionally those labs just can't be drawn. There seems to be a myth among students/new nurses that being unable to stick someone is a sign of incompetence. Nope, it's occasionally part of the deal.

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